Wednesday night, the Vancouver Unity Games Meetup Group convened at VFS Café for a recap of related events and developments, including some highlights of the recent Unity Awards Show and a special announcement concerning their new relationship with Nintendo. Unity Community Evangelist, Joe Robins, presented on behalf of Unity Technologies, and VFS Game Design grads, Richard Harrison and Maxwell Hannaman, presented the game Pulse (winner of the Unity Award for Best Student Project) on behalf of their team (Pixel Pi – Larissa (Lala) Fuchs, Leanne Roed, and Michael Cooper were also present in the audience and made themselves available to people who wanted to try the game or who wanted to talk about it).
Pulse has definitely earned the attention and accolades it has received lately from a number of reviews (both print and video-based) and articles. It’s a game with some very unique qualities. It’s premise alone is evidence of this: the player operates as a blind person using a peculiar echolocation system of throwing very cute little creatures into the hazardous environment, who upon making impact in the darkness reveal elements of the surroundings (walls, objects, machines, traps, and other living no-so-friendly things) to the player. (It’s something like the way the rain sequence in the Daredevil movie allows blind Daredevil to “see” the face of the woman he loves – a scene the Pixel Pi team loved so much they made a similar one happen in the game.) Another example is the way the game is designed to used light. Often, lighting serves as a cue for what direction the player should be traveling in. But with Pulse, the light only reveals parts of the environment itself. So, the team had to think of other cues for guiding direction – like using sound and momentarily revealed object textures.
The team loved the experience of making the game at VFS, and even though they are now graduated and busy at new jobs in the industry (Richard is working at Fathom Interactive, Maxwell at Relic Entertainment, Lala at DeNA Studios, Michael is working Freelance, and Leanne is now a TA in the VFS Games Department), they all want to keep the team alive, to continue to meet and maybe try to develop something else together. Richard expressed it something like this: “Rebuilding Pulse as a commercial property in our spare time would take years, so, it’s probably not possible. But we could definitely work on smaller projects together. It would be great because our working relationship was so perfect, and we’re so happy that we had the chance to do this at VFS. Just the fact that we were able to take the kinds of risks we took, made it an incredible opportunity. It’s those kinds of risks that make new things possible.”
You can download and play Pulse here.
Unity Games Development Update
After the Pulse presentation, Joe Robins, after a brief history of himself and the company (including a disclosure about the company employee photo featured above – hint, how many Joe Robins are there, anyway) gave the audience a rundown of recent events and developments, which culminated in a quick video review of the Awards Show in Amsterdam (where Richard and Maxwell went to pick up the Best Student Project Award on behalf of Team Pixel Pi) and a couple of announcements, including extended support for Windows 8 and Windows Phone 8, they are closer to support for Linux, they’ve extended the capabilities for the Mecanim character animation system, and the biggest announcement, as made public in Wednesday’s Press Release (19 Sept, 2012), is that Unity and Nintendo have partnered to bring Unity Engine and it’s previous developments (over a million of them) to Wii U. This is, of course, a significant development for a platform that is perhaps best know for supporting mobile and digital games. The projection for seeing the actual results of the partnership is some point in 2013.
For more information about developments at Unity, watch the Keynote with Unity founders David Helgason, Joachim Ante and Nicholas Francis, joined by Peter Molyneux Unity 2012 in Amsterdam.